Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Next on line!

Next on line!

This year I'm doing my best to shop only on line. And I'm determined that everything will be ordered by the end of today. Shopping on line is kind of like going to Wal-Mart. You can get there, you can see the store but there's no parking anywhere.
Mind you, I've never actually been to a Wal-Mart, except maybe once when I was in Idaho visiting my brother and he wanted to go. I think that was a Wal-Mart. I hear it's a zoo over there most of the time and right now it's like a zoo except the animals are all out wandering around.

My first attempt was at Eddie Bauer's. Everything on my list was already sold out, two days ago, or the color was no longer available. I got a new list and went there and it was fine. Last night I tried the Amazon thing. I could order but they couldn't process so I have to go back there today and see if they've figured out their problem. And then there was one more site. It wasn't working properly so I couldn't select size or color. I called this morning and talked to an actual person and she assured me that everything I wanted was in stock and would ship tomorrow. So, with the exception of Amazon, I'm done.

There is, of course, the knitting that's going on. I finished the chulo but still have to steam it or soak it to stop those earflaps from curling. And I spent some time on a secret project and then some time on another hat. Found a mistake six inches back on the scarf I'm working on at Skein. It was easier to rip than to drop down and pick up. Picking up cable rows is not all that much fun.

It's way slower this year than last year at the shop. I'm hearing the same thing from other knit shop owners. So it's not just us. I only had three students yesterday and I stayed late to help one of them. Because I like her and she has a really cute baby and doesn't often get a chance to knit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Making hats

Making hats

Do you ever get a hankering to just make something? Or obsess over one particular kind of thing? I get this craziness sometimes. It was socks for a while. Then it was scarves. Right now it's hats.

I'm just about done with the chulo, just need to finish the last few inches of single crochet around the ear flaps. And I've started another stocking cap using some Brown Sheep worsted leftovers. (Had to buy some more to finish.) Yesterday morning, before I went yarn shopping, I cast on for another hat. I finished it last night. I think it took maybe six hours in all from start to finish. And now I'm trying to decide which yarn to use next. I'm not posting a picture yet because this hat may go in the stack of knitting things that are going to be gifts but I don't know for whom just yet. The hat was supposed to be for me but it's a little on the tight side.

So, about the yarn sale yesterday. I bought a lot of yarn. Most of it is for hats. Two skeins here, three there, and some onesies. I didn't get any sock yarn. I already have every color and pattern that they had. I did get some Euroflax to try, enough for a sleeveless top. And five hanks of Mango Moon Wooly in a green and yellow colorway that might become a vest. Still haven't used the five skeins of orange that I got last year at the same sale. There's another sale this coming weekend at another of the local shops. Fortunately I'll be working and won't be able to go.

I'm off to find my hat books. I know they're here somewhere. Meanwhile, I'm just casting on 64 stitches on size 6mm and knitting round and round.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Why I knit

Why I knit

So I can make this cute little sweater for this cute little dog who is freezing in the cold of Michigan.

One skein of Encore and the basic pattern from Dogs in Knits

by Judith L. Swartz. Just as soon as I get some of the holiday projects completed I'll be making another one. Maybe the one with all the cables.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Post Thanksgiving post

Post Thanksgiving post

I couldn't have been more wrong. We even had a jello-mold salad. And there were, in fact, two pies. Pecan and pumpkin. It was like we were in some kind of middle America feast. I'm definitely not complaining. It was everything a Thanksgiving feast is supposed to be. And I'm almost over the I'm not going to eat for three days feeling. I'm even thinking of having breakfast.

I'm looking forward to a busy day. It's finally sinking in that Christmas is coming so people are starting to knit again. Hats are big this year. Scaves not so much. Glitzy yarn is less important than the big, bulky stuff. And baby blankets! Is there a new baby boom that no one is talking about? And we keep selling out of Dogs In Knits. (We just got six more copies if you're looking for it.)

Anyway, it's going to be a fun weekend. I have some time for knitting and some friends to share it with. Gotta figure out when to go to the big year-end sale at Stitch in Time. And Needle in a Haystack is having a sale today and tomorrow. I don't think I can make it. Well, maybe after work.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you look closely you'll see that there are some leftover Halloween witches in there but I don't have a Thanksgiving image as yet. That won't happen until later today when I go to my friend Robert's for the annual feast. Anyway I thought this picture looked suitably autumnal and harvesty. And bountiful.

Robert doesn't do Thanksgiving the way my mother did. There'll be turkey and stuffing but the stuffing will be exotic in some way. And he doesn't usually have yams with marshmellows on top or gelatin salad of any kind. I expect we'll have some kind of mashed potato though. And one vegetable. Maybe a pureed red pepper soup. And only one dessert. We always had at least three kinds of pie and a couple of cakes. But there will be wine, something we never had when I was growing up. And we won't eat until nine o'clock (or later) instead of two or three in the afternoon. And there won't be football on the TV. But I won't have to help clean up. So much for which to be thankful.

So, until it's time for me to drive over to West Los Angeles I get to stay in and enjoy some quiet time, just me, Patrick and some knitting. I did get a few rows done on the chulo hat and am about half way through the fairisle band. I haven't figured out how to strand the yarn when I'm knitting with my left hand. So I'm twisting the yarn and letting the twist unwind every once in a while. I can strand the yarn with my right hand though so it's only a minor problem.

I just finished a Starbuck's pumpkin scone that one of my students brought me yesterday. And I've been practicing eating pumpkin pie because another student brought me five pumpkin pie tarts. I got to see several of my favorite people at Skein. And I'll see my daughter sometime this weekend. And gas prices are down a bit and I only need to use regular instead of premium in my new car. The list goes on and on. So much, as I said, for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005



I got started on my Chulo last night. Twice! I thought I needed the hat to be a little bigger. I seem to know mostly people with large heads so most hats that I make need to be enhanced. The size in the book, Andean Folk Knits by Marcia Lewandowski, seemed like it was going to be too small.

So, rather than make a swatch, which I usually do, I just cast on with a needle two sizes larger than the pattern specified. I managed to get the stitches twisted and tried to correct that at the end of the first round. That turned out not to be such a good idea. When I pulled the hat off the needles I could at least tell how big it was going to be. Very big! I put it on my head and it fell straight down onto my shoulders.

So I've started over, using the needle size specified, and I think it's going to be okay. Maybe not for the intended giftee, although that would be good, but for someone. I sure hope those earflaps can be brought under control by the crochet edging that goes on at the end. I'm using different colors from those in the book. That green just isn't something I could tolerate working on. If this works out I'll have enough yarn left over to make another one if I switch the main color to be the accent etc.

I'll get to spend some more time with the Chulo tonight. Skein is closing at six today instead of the usual eight. And tomorrow, since I don't have to do anything but bring the wine, I'll have time to maybe finish it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What's next?

What's next?

Most of the people I hang out with are knitters. And most of those knitters are trying their best to get some holiday presents done in time for the big day. I'm no exception. I just don't have any great big projects planned.

I finished one sweater last night. The dog sweater that I started a couple of weeks ago. I don't have a picture because it just looks odd without a dog in in. I'm hoping the dog's caregiver will send a picture. I spent about three hours under my new Ott light. It sure made the knitting a lot easier. When I moved to another chair to weave in the ends the light over there was definitely yellow, and almost dingy.

Anyway that's one present done. I have a couple of pairs of socks that are close to being finished, including some tube socks that I'm making for Lisa's mom. I still have to get started on the chulo hat. That may happen later today.

I'm really trying to keep things simple this year. I do have some things I need to buy but that's why the Internet was created. My goal is to get everything at least ordered by the end of this month. Of course, I still have to decide what to get. It's the knitting friends that are the hardest. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Caveat emptor?

Caveat emptor?

It's been a little zany around here lately. We're sort of busy at Skein but nothing like last year. People seem to come in batches. Nothing, then total chaos. Then nothing again for a while. Yesterday was slow for the first couple of hours and then it was bagain basement sale all over the place. (Do stores still have bagain basements?)

Among the zanies of this past week was this one customer with major attitude. She came in the door with chips on both shoulders, very large chips. She practically threw her garter stitch scarf on the table and demanded to know why she was getting these thin, narrow places when what she was expecting was nice fat areas for the whole length of the scarf. Her yarn was one of those recycled silks, the ones that are made from left over sari silk. I think this one was Mango Moon.

It looked perfectly normal to me. That yarn is notoriously irregular. That's part of what makes it what it is. I've worked with several different brands of this type of yarn and it's consistently inconsistent.

"Well," she said "I'm a new knitter and you should have told me." Told her? Even if she we had known she was a new knitter, I doubt if either Ann Mary or I would have thought to tell her "Oh, by the way, you're going to get some spots that are narrower than others."

Ann Mary tried to placate the woman but there was no way she was going to accept responsibility for her own lack of experience. I don't know what Ann Mary may have told the woman when she bought the yarn. I try, when I know I'm dealing with a new knitter, to steer people away from tricky yarns or to at least caution them about the potential frustrations. On the other hand, the business exists to sell yarn. If someone wants to buy who are we to stop them?

Anyway, it was an unpleasant scene with no reasonably satisfactory resolution. The woman took her yarn and stomped to the door. "I may be back," she threatened. And she was. She forgot her purse.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Knitting the right way

Knitting the right way

So there I was, sitting comfortably with my one student, just enjoying the peace and calm of a slow afternoon. An older couple comes in and begins to browse a bit. The man, husband I assume, comes over to me and tells me he used to knit when he was young. Learned it in Switzerland where he grew up. It's all very nice and I'm ready to hear his reminiscences. Suddenly, the wife, I assume it's the wife, turns around and announces to any and everyone who was in the shop the she would just love to come back in and teach everyone to knit the right way. (I knit with a right handed throw.)

"He's the teacher," the husband explains.

"Well, I suppose he's just knitting the way he learned," she replies.

I felt just, well, gobsmacked, as I've heard others say. I have had a few other knitters who felt that their way, continental, was better. One farm lady absolutely refused to consider that there are alternatives to knitting her way. Hers was the best and only acceptable way. I'm glad she lives in Bakersfield and doesn't get into the city very often.

My late friend Joanee used to tease me about my knitting style but she did accept that for me to change from throwing to picking would be way more difficult than the payoff would be. But she never told me it was wrong.

Where do these people come from? I've heard stories from other knitters of people, strangers, taking their knitting away from then and showing them how it should be done. Without being invited! I'm afraid those knitting nazis might find out that a pointed stick has more uses than for knitting if they were to try that with me. Well, if I weren't too gobsmacked. Who put them in charge?

I find it fascinating that knitting has evolved in different ways all around the world; that totally non-connected cultures could have come up with something that ends up looking pretty much the same in the end, all via different routes. I love watching how other people knit. Even the ones who throw the yarn the way I do are so varied in the "how" they do it that it's like handwriting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It's never too early

It's never too early

See my new Ott Light? It's an early Christmas present from Renee and Mendy, both of whom I taught to knit and are also members of the Thursday night knitting group. I'm not sure if Renee knew that Mendy was going to give me the light before Christmas, well this much before Christmas, but Mendy couldn't wait. She's like that. But I'm really pleased to add this to my list of things that make knitting even more enjoyable. It's never too early for Christmas.

I think I might be losing my grip. I went to two yarn shops yesterday and did not buy anything. Not even any dpns, my usual standby. I was tempted by some Noro Silk Garden while we were at Phebie's Needle Art but, as my friend pointed out, that's not enough to make a multi-directional scarf, at least not as wide and long as I like them. And it was too much for a hat. So I put it back. I think having a car payment, something I haven't had in fifteen years, may be causing me to over-react.

Besides, I have plenty of yarn. This sock, for example, is being made from some yarn that another friend gave me last year. It's a gorgeous red superwash wool. I have lots of it. I'm going to rip this sock and return the yarn to stash. It looks okay in the picture but it's really not working out very well. I've already ripped it once and gone down a needle size. It still looks disproportionate. And I do think it's going to be too stiff to be comfortable to wear. It's never too late to rip out a project.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mondays are the best!

Mondays are the best!

Ah! Monday! My day off from Skein. And this one doesn't include anything like chores. Just going shopping, again. This time with one of my students who has been knitting for almost a year but has never visited a couple of the yarn shops in our general area. So we're going to Stitch in Time (that'll be three weeks in a row for me) and then out to Montclair to check out Phebie's NeedleArt. I haven't been there in several months so it'll be fun to see what's new out there. Phebie was in the class I took from Annie Modesitt a few weeks ago. Anyway. They carry a lot of the same things that everyone else does but they also have stuff I don't see anywhere else. And they have beads. My friend will enjoy that part.

My daughter, Lisa, was over this weekend so I was able to get the measurement I needed before I could continue with the Cocoon jacket. I still haven't checked but I think I'm close to being all right to put in the waste yarn for the armholes. I've been stricken with the urge to knit some socks so I've been doing that for the past couple of days. No picture yet. I think the yarn I'm using is a little stiff but maybe it will soften when I wash the socks. Besides, they're specifically for Christmastime so it won't matter that they're not the softest socks in the world. Well, that's my theory. I'm also working on a Skein project and finishing up another way-too-long scarf for another friend. What can I say? She likes them that way.

Speaking of Skein. I was swamped yesterday. We're only open for three hours. I maxed out within five minutes of opening. I had several people who will come back another time. There are only so many chairs you can fit around the table. I had a couple of people sitting at the front end of the store, up where we have the pattern catalogs, that were also trying to get some help so I kept rotating between the tables. It was hectic but we got through it and I have some pocket money for today's shopping.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Is it Friday?

Is it Friday?

No Thursday night knitting this week as our hostess is out of town. I was home last night. I thought it was Saturday when I woke up. When you have a sort of iron-clad routine these changes can be disastrous. But it's Friday after all so I have another evening to get my house in order, literally, before my daughter comes over tomorrow night. Another change in the routine. Fridays used to be our get-together evening, then it was Sunday. Now it seems it's whenever we can get our calendars to match. I haven't seen her in three weeks so I'm looking forward to this visit.

I wanted to start a new pair of socks last night but I couldn't find my horde of dpns. I know they're around here somewhere. I'll have to remember to buy some today as I don't have a clue where I put the ones I already have. I know most of the size 2US are in current projects but I'm looking for some size 4US. And I need some size 11US for the chunky socks in Knitscene. I know I don't have any of those. And a size 10US 16" circular. I can't believe I don't have one of those but apparently I don't. And I might as well get the yarn for the dog sweater I'm supposed to be making. And find a new pattern since the book I was planning to use was purchased yesterday by someone who doesn't wait too long.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I got nothing

I got nothing

Spent an hour on the phone with some guy named Brian in New Delhi this morning. I think I got most of what he said. Anyway the connection problems I was having seemed to be fixed. Of course I had to download something that used up even more of my limited space availability. I really have to go get some more memory.

Well, it was cold and rainy yesterday. One would have thought there would be all kinds of people thinking about knitting. One would have been wrong. It was a slow day, until the evening people started showing up for classes. Then I got busy and had a problem keeping everyone going. It amazes me that some people can just get how to make a knit stitch so quickly while others can totally blank out on the sequence. I had one of the latter last night. That took way more time than I usually have to spend supervising each move. I think, I hope I'm right, that she finally got it. If she comes back today I'll know it didn't stick. But there were others who just make it all worthwhile.

Another newish knitter who knits in what Annie Modesitt calls Eastern combined. I guess it's time to re-read Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. I get the basics but some of the changes that you have to make elude me. And then there was the woman who practically defied me to teach her to knit because she's left handed. That could be interesting. We'll see if she comes back for a class.

Anyway. The "I got nothing" means I didn't get to do any knitting at all. Well, a few rows of stockinette but that doesn't really count.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Aw, shucks, ma'am!

Aw, shucks, ma'am!

Ann Mary gave me a souvenir yesterday. I wasn't going to buy it. This isn't the sort of magazine that I would buy even if I am in it. And besides, I didn't want it to look like I was overly impressed with myself. But it would be false for me to say I'm not tickled senseless to be included in the men who knit section. Thanks Leslie , you made my day!

It's turned cold again. (Cold is relative, I know.) And it's maybe going to rain. (My poor car is going to get wet.) And I have to go to work. Work is fine but I don't get to spend much time knitting and today would be ideal. I don't have anything finished or even far enough along to show you. I'm grinding away on a long scarf, and have started the second sock of a pair of bedsocks. These are both drudges. The Back Yard Leaves scarf has another repeat. I'm slowly finishing some things before I start anything else. But I've got to start those anything else pieces pretty soon. Christmas just isn't all that far away.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005



Yesterday Mendy and I took our new knitter friend for a yarn shop crawl. It was really just a couple of local shops but still it was exciting to show her what is available out there.

We started at A Stitch in Time in San Marino. This shop is, or was, primarily a needlepoint shop. They now carry knitting yarn and there's a whole separate section called Hodge Podge that is chock full of gift items for the home and accessories to wear. They also have the best prices overall of any shop in the area.

Even though I only meant to buy an Addi Turbo I ended up with this yarn, Basics from Lana Grossa, in two colorways named Joker. Wool and nylon that works on a size 10US. I only got two skeins of the two colors.

And then someone told me about the 75% off rack in the back of the shop. At 75% off you have to buy something even if you don't know what you're going to do with it. So I got these three balls of Yang Ribbon. It's true that I don't know what I'll do with it, probably use it as a carry-along or maybe a knotted edging of some sort.

The next part of the ritual yarn shop crawl is to have lunch. We went to The Peach Cafe in Monrovia which is conveniently located next door to Unraveled. I love this shop. I usually get by there at least once a week although I don't always buy anything. This time I got another Addi Turbo, a 47" one for the Cocoon jacket. (I'm already crowded on a 29" one.) Anyway, I ran into three or four friends from Skein and answered a couple of knitting questions and reminded someone how to bind off. And I bought a copy of Jane Ellison's Naturally Noro. We had this book at Skein but I waited too long and the last copy was sold last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the inductee was having a good time and finding all sorts of things she might like to have at some point. She has a lot more self-control that Mendy or I have. But I think she'll catch on pretty fast.

And besides all that, we drove in my new Element, which is just about as fun as it gets.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Good gadgets

Good gadgets

I've been doing a lot of pretty simple knitting lately. Projects for Skein are almost always aimed at the novice knitter or at the instant gratification market. I'm even doing scarves for a friend who only wants the simplest of knits. Most of these things are knit while I'm as work. So when I get home I'm usually looking for something a little more interesting.

I'm stalled at the moment on the Cocoon jackets, waiting for a measurement that I need, so I decided to get back to the Back Yard Leaves scarf from Scarf Style, designed by Annie Modesitt. I had started a few weeks ago but got sidetracked by some other things. I managed three repeats last night. It's really a fun knit.

And it was helped along by this, a magnetic clip board. I'm not much on gadgets when it comes to knitting. A row counter, some stitch markets and a pencil and paper. But this clip board is definitely worth giving a try. It was given to me a couple of years ago on one of my many birthdays. I hadn't tried it until last night. It really makes following the chart a lot easier.

Thursday, November 03, 2005



Yesterday was wild. People were waiting for other people to leave so they could have their chairs. It was two deep all around the teaching table for much of last evening. I like it when it's busy but it would make more sense if everyone didn't come at the same time. But that's part of the package when you offer classes on a drop in basis.

I was really beat by the time we closed at 8PM and anxious to get home and work on my Cocoon jacket. I'd been thinking about it all day. That and worrying about my car sitting out on the street because there was no room in the miniscule Skein parking lot. Everything was okay. Anyway, I did manage to stay awake a couple of hours and worked a few rounds before things got all blurry and I couldn't knit for yawning. I have two hours to work on it this morning.

I need to keep pushing so I get a lot done before I loose interest.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

From start to start

From start to start

It's hard to believe that it's been a week and a half since I took the Cocoon Jacket class with Annie Modesitt. And that I got stalled after only a few days. This is the beginning. We got through most of this while we were in class. I wasn't real happy with the way the center starts. It leaves a big hole that has to be sewn up later. And I didn't like the charcoal yarn either. I'm using the same colors and yarns that are used in Vogue Knitting. The dark spot doesn't show up in their photos. Maybe they doctored the picture or something. But whatever. I thought it looked too much like a target.

So I changed it. Last night I ripped everything I had done and rewound the yarn. I decided to try the circular cast on that is in Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. I couldn't get over how easy that was. And I changed the starting color to the multi-colored yarn. I like it so much more. I only have to weave in the tail from the cast on and I'm done with that. No sewing!

So far I've only done one repeat of the pattern rounds, 17 rows per repeat. This seems to be growing rapidly. I'm already on 24" circulars and will probably move to 29" after another 17 rows or maybe 34. I did get a 32" Addi Turbo while I was at Stitch in Time on Monday so I'm set for that.

I expect the jacket will grow more slowly as 8 more stitches are added almost every other round. Doing the twisted strand rounds takes a while but the effect is worth it. I don't know why the white background in the photos came out looking so peachy. Maybe it's the flash. I imagine there will be other color variations as I go along. If one of them is anywhere near accurate I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In my Element

In my Element

Just what I've been waiting for. Finally a new car! I've wanted one of these Honda Elements since they first came on the market.

Yesterday, while driving to A Stitch in Time for a little yarn sampling, I started having some more problems with my Blazer. Enough already! So I went online and got some pricing from Honda dealers in my area. This is the only way to buy a car. No hassle, no haggling. I think I spent less that three hours at the dealership including the test drive.

It's not the most exciting color in the world but I preferred it to the silver grey color they also had available. It sure feels different to drive but I'm very pleased with it. I had to take it out just for a little driver training this morning. I wonder if everyone noticed.

Almost no knitting yesterday and my hands do feel better today. I had no time to knit today while I was at Skein but I'll do some tonight.